Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…
Over the last number of years I have discovered and researched some of the ‘prayers of the Church’. I didn’t grow up in a Church where liturgical prayers (prayers written by somebody else) were used besides the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. For whatever reasons, I was led to believe that those prayers were pointless and redundant. I must say, that after researching many of them, I believe I was misled. Liturgical prayers have the ability to speak volumes about ourselves and our faith, without being to wordy. I want to share one with you today.
Prayer of Confession
Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. By what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I haven’t loved You with my whole heart, or loved my neighbor as myself. For this, I am truly sorry and humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus, please have mercy on me, please forgive me. That I may delight in Your will, walk in Your ways, and bring glory to Your name. Amen.
Right away, the prayer addresses God as ‘merciful’. Sometimes I take this for granted. Sometimes I think my sin is no big deal because God is merciful. This prayer confirms that God is indeed merciful but then confirms that any sin I commit is an offense against Him. This forces me to recognize that any sin I commit is an offense to the God who loved me first, who provides for me, who died for me, and who sustains me. This recognition of the gravity of my sin causes me to desire repentance. The prayer then categorizes my sin into ‘thought, word, and deed’. As I reflect upon this, I realize that those words capture all of the ways in which I can give offense. I can think evil, I can say evil, and I can do evil; there is no wiggle room, or grey area, here, it is all encompassing. But…that is not enough. The prayer goes on to say ‘By what I have done, and by what I have left undone’. This sentence is better understood by focusing on the ‘undone’, rather than the ‘done’. I understand that the ‘done’ are my offenses of thought, word, and deed; but the ‘undone’ are still sin. The ‘undone’ refer to all of those nudges of the Spirit that I ignored or to my devotional times of RPMS that I blew off. I realize that in my own life, if I ignore my prayer time, my Bible reading, and my fellowship time with other believers…I have alot more thoughts, words, and deeds that need confessed. In other words, my ‘done’ is bigger when my ‘undone’ is bigger. In today’s language we say ‘garbage in garbage out’, or ‘good stuff in good stuff out’.
As if that isn’t enough to set my heart into a place of repentance, the prayer reminds me that I have failed in the ‘greatest’ AND the ‘second greatest’ commandments. If I have not loved God with my whole heart, then I certainly have not loved my neighbor. I realize that God is the source of love, and that all of us were, and our, created in His image. As I tumble this around in my brain it comes out like this; We all love something, but it may not be God. I believe that we all have the capacity to love because we were all created to reflect it through God. If I am not loving God with my whole heart, it means that something else has captured that adoration. That means I have substituted something else for God. That…is a slippery slope indeed. That is idol worship territory. OUCH…!! There is really nothing to say to this except exactly what the prayer says; ‘For this, I am truly sorry, and humbly repent’.
The next line causes me to catch my breath; ‘For the sake of Your Son Jesus, please have mercy on me, please forgive me’. Notice, it is not for our sake, but for the sake of Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…for His sake. For the sake of His blood that left a trail from the place He was beaten, through the streets of Jerusalem, up the hill, and finally pooled around the foot of the cross as He hung there…for me. For the sake of Jesus who listened to the Roman soldiers verbally abuse Him as He hung, for the sake of Jesus who listened to the crowd scream “Crucify Him” a week after they laid palm branches at His feet hailing Him as King, for the sake of Jesus who cried out in the garden for God’s will to be done, no matter what…for me. For that Jesus, for His sake, may I receive forgiveness.
The question is “Why?”
The answer is in the last line of the prayer; ‘That I may delight in Your will, walk in Your ways, and bring glory to Your name.’ For the sake of Jesus, His life, His message, His commission, may I carry on His legacy by continuing His work here on earth as long as I carry breath in these lungs. Jesus said that we, the Church, would do greater things than He has done. We can only accomplish this if we delight in His will, walk in His way, which will bring glory to His name…the name by which we are forgiven by a most merciful God.
May your thoughts, words, and deeds glorify Him who hung…for us all.